Lochaber smelter owner gives assurances over performance of Fort William site

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GFG Alliance, currently in the middle of a legal battle to regain control of two aluminium plants in Belgium and France, this week stressed that its Lochaber smelter at Fort William is performing well.

The assurances came as GFG launched what it described as ‘multiple legal actions’ against private equity firm American Industrial Partners (AIP) to reclaim control of an aluminium rolling mill at Duffel in Belgium and a smelter at Dunkirk.

Mired in investigations into alleged fraud and money laundering, GFG has been seeking to refinance over $5bn of debt after its main lender, Greensill Capital, collapsed last year.

If GFG cannot reassert control of these two facilities, it would leave its aluminium operations in Lochaber as its only European smelter business.

In both the case of the Duffel mill and the Dunkirk smelter,  AIP bought up debt from the original lenders and then called a default.

However, a GFG spokesperson told the Lochaber Times this week: ‘Alvance British Aluminium at Lochaber continues to perform strongly, notwithstanding the challenging energy prices, while the recycling and billet plant project is meeting all its milestones.’

And in a more general statement concerning the situation with AIP, a spokesperson for the metals group said: ‘GFG is committed to take all steps possible to fight against AIP’s premeditated, predatory manoeuvres to seize our Dunkirk and Duffel assets on the cheap.

‘GFG continues to make solid progress restructuring its businesses across the globe and today’s standstill agreement with Greensill Bank demonstrates we are getting close to a consensual debt restructuring that is in the best interests of all our stakeholders.

‘Our core businesses continue to perform well and are operationally strong despite some economic headwinds.’